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In a progressive society, anyone should feel free to pursue whatever career path inspires and motivates them. Traditional gender roles emphasize more caring or nurturing jobs for women and femmes. If you love caring roles, fantastic. If you are curious about technology and cybersecurity, that is also fantastic. Now more than ever, cybersecurity teams must factor in diversity, equality and equitable pay. With a broader range of insight and experiences, each cybersecurity team can more efficiently collaborate and brainstorm effective and creative solutions to cybersecurity challenges. In her academic article on “Plugging the Skills Gap“, Michelle Johnson Cobb of Skybox Security writes that women “represent an untapped resource that could address serious issues faced by organizations.” The benefits for teams and businesses are clear. How about the benefits for women looking to enter the field?
Some of the most cited reasons for exploring a career in cybersecurity are:
Sound compelling? The next step is to get some concrete inspiration and motivation.
There are countless stories of women making waves in cybersecurity history. Consider the women of Bletchley Park, who were instrumental as codebreakers during World War Two. Their tireless work not only helped the Allied Forces, but they also “heralded the birth of the information age with the industrialization of the codebreaking processes enabled by machines” (Bletchley Park). Listen to episode 25 of the Bletchley Park Podcast to learn more about these women and their profound impact on the future of war and technology.
What happens when we turn to fiction? Pop culture is overflowing with edgy and fascinating male hacker characters and vigilante heroes to get inspired by. When we dig a little deeper, we can find some cool female role models too. Consider the talented hacker Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Though she is not always on the right side of the law, Lisbeth is a brilliant and determined computer expert to take inspiration from. She defeats an email encryption scheme and syphons the bank accounts of a corrupt antagonist through remote computer access. Other notable characters include the gifted computer programmer Felicity Smoak from Arrow. Felicity has a particularly cool narrative because she started out as a young hacktivist, then ended up going corporate and got a job in the IT department at Queen Consolidated before she found her true calling as the technological backbone for a team of superheroes. Another fun example is the renegade hacker turned secret agent and superhero Daisy Johnson from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Her personal brand of genius involves quickly and efficiently analyzing network security, system vulnerability and threat intelligence.
Beyond literature and history, we can look to the women around us for inspiration. In 2020, the Software Report published a comprehensive feature on the top 25 women leaders in cybersecurity from around the world. Their feature includes profiles of Nicole Eagan, Lisa Schreiber and Jaya Baloo, among a host of other women with impressive cybersecurity resumes. The editors of Cybercrime Magazine have also compiled a thorough and comprehensive list of over fifty different associations and groups to follow, which promote and support women in cybersecurity.
When we talk about women in cybersecurity, there is an elephant in the room. This industry is particularly affected by the gender wage gap. Women tend to be compensated less for their work, and the disparity increases, the further up the ladder you go. According to the PayScale Pay Equity and DEI Ebook, “the pay gap is wider for women of colour at every job level.” Progress is slow, but it is happening. With more women launching their careers in cybersecurity, employers can better understand and appreciate the value of women in the cyber workforce. More women in cybersecurity also mean a stronger collective voice and community support, leading to greater change in the push towards pay equity.
Cybersecurity courses and certification training can make all the difference for your career success. If you are brand new to the field or are feeling at all overwhelmed, start with the basics of cybersecurity. Build your foundation and add some formal education to your portfolio through CompTIA A+ certification training. Love solving problems? Fighting off practical threats? CompTIA CySA+ certification training prepares you to become an analyst, engineer or specialist who can confidently manage security operations, vulnerability or threat intelligence. You could also look into CompTIA Security+ certification, which proves that you can confidently take on the role of a network administrator, security administrator, security consultant or engineer, security specialist or penetration tester. Future employers will take note of your proven security expertise, and your resume will stand out from the rest of the stack. If you want to become a network analyst or administrator, network field engineer or technician, system engineer, computer technician or help desk technician, then CompTIA Network+ certification would be the ideal way to go.
Whichever path you choose, know that there are a lot of inspiring women in history and fiction who have come before you. Your decision to pursue a career in cybersecurity could pave the way for the next generation of women to flourish in the field, bringing us one step closer to pay equity and equal opportunities.
The information contained in this post is considered to be true and accurate as of the date of publication. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog.